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Panthers GM: Re-signing Versteeg, Garrison priorities

Jason Garrison

Florida Panthers fans will be happy to hear that general manager Dale Tallon considers re-signing RFA forward Kris Versteeg and UFA defenseman Jason Garrison priorities.

Tallon met with reporters today to wrap up a pleasantly surprising season that saw his team win its division and fall a goal short of advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

What’s not surprising is that Tallon wants to keep Versteeg and Garrison. The former had 54 points in 71 games; the latter finished third in goals by defensemen (16), behind only Erik Karlsson (19) and Shea Weber (19).

Given his unrestricted status, Garrison could be the toughest of the two to keep. The 27-year-old late-bloomer with the big shot would garner significant interest on the open market, and the Panthers are still a budget-conscious club.

And with Erik Gudbranson, 20, expected to play a bigger role next season and for years beyond, locking up Garrison for the long term might not provide enough bang per buck.

If Garrison walks, Tallon might regret signing Ed Jovanovski through 2014-15. But he hasn’t walked yet, and by all indications he wants to stay in Florida.